Effective retrovirus-mediated gene transfer in normal and mutant human melanocytes.
ABSTRACT Melanocytes represent the second most important cell type in the skin and are primarily responsible for the pigmentation of skin, hair, and eyes. Their function may be affected in a number of inherited and acquired disorders, characterized by hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, consequent aesthetic problems, and increased susceptibility to sun-mediated skin damage and photocarcinogenesis. Nevertheless, the possibility of genetically manipulating human melanocytes has been hampered so far by a number of limitations, including their resistance to retroviral infection. To address the problem of human melanocyte transduction, we generated a melanocyte culture from a patient affected with ocular albinism type 1 (OA1), an X-linked pigmentation disorder, characterized by severe reduction of visual acuity, retinal hypopigmentation, and the presence of macromelanosomes in skin melanocytes and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The cultured patient melanocytes displayed a significant impairment in replication ability and showed complete absence of endogenous OA1 protein, thus representing a suitable model for setting up an efficient gene transfer procedure. To correct the genetic defect in these cells, we used a retroviral vector carrying the OA1 cDNA and exploited a melanocyte-keratinocyte coculturing approach. Despite their lower replication rate with respect to wildtype cells, the patient melanocytes were efficiently transduced and readily selected in vitro, and were found to express, process, and properly sort large amounts of recombinant OA1 protein. These results indicate the feasibility of efficiently and stably transducing in vitro not only normal neonatal, but also mutant adult, human melanocytes with nonmitogenic genes.
Article: The ocular albinism type 1 protein, an intracellular G protein-coupled receptor, regulates melanosome transport in pigment cells.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The protein product of the ocular albinism type 1 gene, named OA1, is a pigment cell-specific G protein-coupled receptor exclusively localized to intracellular organelles, namely lysosomes and melanosomes. Loss of OA1 function leads to the formation of macromelanosomes, suggesting that this receptor is implicated in organelle biogenesis, however the mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of the disease remains obscure. We report here the identification of an unexpected abnormality in melanosome distribution both in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and skin melanocytes of Oa1-knock-out (KO) mice, consisting in a displacement of the organelles from the central cytoplasm towards the cell periphery. Despite their depletion from the microtubule (MT)-enriched perinuclear region, Oa1-KO melanosomes were able to aggregate at the centrosome upon disruption of the actin cytoskeleton or expression of a dominant-negative construct of myosin Va. Consistently, quantification of organelle transport in living cells revealed that Oa1-KO melanosomes displayed a severe reduction in MT-based motility; however, this defect was rescued to normal following inhibition of actin-dependent capture at the cell periphery. Together, these data point to a defective regulation of organelle transport in the absence of OA1 and imply that the cytoskeleton might represent a downstream effector of this receptor. Furthermore, our results enlighten a novel function for OA1 in pigment cells and suggest that ocular albinism type 1 might result from a different pathogenetic mechanism than previously thought, based on an organelle-autonomous signalling pathway implicated in the regulation of both membrane traffic and transport.Human Molecular Genetics 09/2008; 17(22):3487-501. · 7.64 Impact Factor